SEELEY, L.B. Mrs. Thrale, Afterwards Mrs. Piozzi; a Sketch of Her Life and Passages From Her Diaries, Letters and Other Writings. With nine illustrations after Hogarth, Reynolds, Zoffany, & others. BOUND BY ROOT OF LONDON WITH EXTRA ILLUSTRATIONS ALL HAND-COLOURED]
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London: Seeley and Co., 1891. Crown octavo. pp. x, 336, 9 (plates), 39 (extra illustrations). Bound by Root & Son, London, in full blue levant morocco, covers framed by triple gilt fillets with inner fleurons, spine divided into six compartments by five gilt raised bands, author and title in gilt direct in the second and third, the remainder tooled in gilt with a floral pattern; board edges ruled in gilt; wide gilt doublures; blue moiré silk endpapers; red, white and blue double endbands; red silk marker. Slightest foxing to titlepage. All edges gilt. A fine copy.
Hester Lynch Thrale (born Hester Lynch Salusbury and after her second marriage, Hester Lynch Piozzi) was a British diarist, author, and patron of the arts. Her diaries and correspondence are an important source of information about Samuel Johnson and eighteenth century life. With a vast selection of diary entries and various intricately detailed illustrations, this volume provides a vivid glimpse into the life and social encounters of Hester Thrale.
In 1763 she married a wealthy brewer named Henry Thrale. In 1765 Samuel Johnson was brought to dinner, and the next year, following a severe illness, Johnson spent most of the summer in the country with the Thrales. Gradually, he became part of the family circle, living about half the time in their homes. A succession of distinguished visitors came there to see Johnson and socialize with the Thrales.
In 1781 Thrale died, and his wife was left a wealthy widow. To everyone’s dismay, she fell in love with her daughter’s music master, Gabriel Piozzi, an Italian singer and composer, married him in 1784, and set off for Italy on a honeymoon. Dr. Johnson openly disapproved. The resulting estrangement saddened his last months of life.
When news reached her of Johnson’s death, she hastily compiled and sent back to England copy for Anecdotes of the late Samuel Johnson, LL.D., during the last Twenty Years of his Life (1786), which thrust her into open rivalry with James Boswell. The breach was further widened when, after her return to England in 1787, she brought out a two- volume edition of Letters to and from the late Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1788). Although less accurate in some details than Boswell’s, her accounts show other aspects of Johnson’s character, especially the more human and affectionate side of his nature.
The extra illustrations, mostly hand-coloured include the following: Charles Montague, Lord Halifax; Miss Chudleigh; John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough; T.B. MacAulay; John Wilkes; Miss Monckton; Maclaurin; Miss Gunning; Edmund Burke; Earl of Chesterfield; Sir Joshua Reynolds; Sir Horace Mann; Henry Thornton; Mrs Piozzi; Henry Baron Brougham; Marie Stuart; Angelica Catalani; King Charles II; Valentine Greatrakes; Cadmus and Hermione; Thomas Gray; Correggio; Raffaelle; Frederick III, King of Prussia; Samuel Lysons; Mrs Siddons; Admiral Lord Keith; Miss O’Neill and some topographical plates.
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